By Dr Kim Houghton
In October 2020, there were over 54,000 job vacancies advertised across regional Australia, a new record for the regions, topping the previous record of 50,000 in September. This was a 7 per cent increase from the 50,000 job vacancies advertised in September 2020. In October 2020 total vacancies in regional Australia as a whole were 13% above the same month last year. The steady growth in regional vacancies since the low in April 2020 has continued, though at a slightly lower rate in the month to October (7%) than the previous month (11%).
Importantly, a clear majority (25) of the 32 regions outside the mainland state capitals are now showing vacancy numbers above October 2019. And 15 regions covering all states other than Victoria are 20% or more above the levels last year. The regions still lagging the levels of 12 months ago are the same as those in September: the southern parts of regional Victoria, Far North Queensland, Outback Queensland and Southeast Tasmania. The regions with the biggest increases are summarised below, led once again by Dubbo and Western NSW now over 90% above (ie nearly double) where they were in October 2019 with nearly 1,500 vacancies advertised in October 2020, compared to around 760 in the same month last year.
The monthly increase in regional vacancies (7%) was the slightly below the 8% increase seen in the mainland capital cities, which is an early sign that vacancy growth in the cities may be starting to accelerate. Overall, however, vacancy numbers in the cities are still well below (-21%) where they were a year ago, while the regions overall are 13% higher. The continuing divergence between the regions and the mainland state capitals shows the resilience in many regional labour markets and the variation in the impact of the COVID-19 restrictions on different places.
|Number of advertised job vacancies||Oct 2019||Sept 2019||Oct 2020||% change Oct 2019 to Oct 2020||% change Sept 2020 to Oct 2020|
|Regional NSW (excl. Sydney)||12,897||16,205||17,452||35.3%||7.7%|
|Regional VIC (excl. Melbourne)||6,501||5,184||5,785||-11.0%||11.6%|
|Regional QLD (excl. Brisbane)||14,192||14,900||15,795||11.3%||6.0%|
|Regional SA (excl. Adelaide)||1,066||1,299||1,370||28.6%||5.5%|
|Regional WA (excl. Perth)||3,716||4,314||4,709||26.7%||9.1%|
|Mainland State Capital Cities||130,630||95,563||103,581||-20.7%||8.4%|
The five regions which show the biggest increases over the 12 months to October 2019 are:
- Dubbo & Western NSW with 92% more vacancies in October 2020 (1,470) than October 2019 (760)
- NSW Southern Highlands & Snowy with 56% more (880 compared to 570)
- South West WA with 52% more (1,090 compared to 720)
- NSW Tamworth & North West with 45% more (830 compared with 570)
- NSW North Coast with 45% more (3,230 compared to 2,227)
Monthly changes in the index can be quite volatile, and Victorian regions are showing early signs of rapid recovery post lockdown. The five regions with the biggest jumps from September 2020 to October 2020 were:
- Bendigo & High Country (VIC) up by 14%
- Goldfields & Southern (WA) up by 12%
- South West (WA) up by 12%
- Gippsland (VIC) up by 11%
- Wimmera & Western (VIC) up by 11%
Most vacancies in the regions are still for highly skilled trades and professionals including automotive, engineering and construction trades, medical practitioners and nurses, health diagnostic and therapy professionals, legal, social and welfare professionals as well as general-inquiry clerks, call centre workers, receptionists, carers and aides.